State of the State
Gov. Nathan Deal delivered his State of the State address on Thursday, where he looked back on his last seven years as governor and the progress the state has made.
“Seven years ago, Georgia’s unemployment rate stood at 10.4 percent. Since then, we have created roughly 675,000 new, private sector jobs and our unemployment rate is at its lowest level in over 10 years at just 4.3 percent. And on top of it all,” said Deal, “we have been named the No. 1 state in which to do business for the fifth consecutive year.”
Gov. Deal cited criminal justice reform and addressing workforce development issues through the state technical colleges as two major accomplishments of his administration.
News of Note
The Governor’s Office of Planning and Budgets released the governor’s 2019 budget which includes an additional $1 million for the technical college system.
Sen. Butch Miller was elected President Pro Tem of the Senate.
The House and Senate have set their schedule through the end of January.
Pending House Legislation
HB 533 5G Broadband Infrastructure Leads to Development Act by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) is pending committee action in the House Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee. This legislation would make it easier and cheaper for telecom corporations to place of small cell wireless facilities in the public rights-of-way (ROW). GMA concerns include maintaining local control and authority over ROW access, public safety, community aesthetics, the permitting process and fair rates of compensation for doing business in the public rights-of-way. Negotiations are underway on key components of the legislation.
City officials are encouraged to have conversations with House members on these concerns. GMA is working with the author on this legislation.
HB 679 - Annexation Restrictions Related to Municipal Elections by Rep. Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta) was introduced this week. The bill would prevent any annexation or deannexation from becoming effective within 90 days before a municipal election. GMA is working with the author on this legislation.
Holdover Bills Pending Senate Finance Committee Action
HB 61 - Internet Sales Tax by Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) seeks to require "delivery retailers" that have gross revenues in excess of $250,000 or conducts 200 or more retail sales into the state to collect and remit sales and use taxes. The bill also outlines the procedure for remission, and penalties for non-compliance. GMA supports this legislation.
HB 181 – Sales Tax Accountability by Rep. Jodi Lott (R-Evans) would allow local governments to request tax information local businesses provide to the Department of Revenue for the use of the designated city finance officer.
The designated finance officer of the local government will be allowed to use information provided by the Department of Revenue to research sales and use tax errors, the underreporting of sales and use taxes, the misuse of sales and use tax exemptions, sales and use tax avoidance, and/or any fluctuation in the distribution amounts of proceeds of sales and use tax. In situations where confidential tax information is shared with the designated finance officer of the local government, such information can only be used for research and analysis. This information would only be allowed to be shared with the governing authority of the local government during an executive session. GMA supports this legislation.
Mayors’ Day Conference
The Legislative Policy Committee and six GMA policy committees plan to meet on Sunday, Jan. 21, and will feature legislators, state agency representatives and legislative staff discussing anticipated issues during the 2018 General Assembly session.
GMA will be hosting a Lt. Governor Candidates’ forum on Sunday, Jan. 21 beginning at 3 p.m. A reception will follow the forums.
On Monday, Jan. 22, city officials are encouraged to invite their legislators to the Legislative Networking Breakfast and Gubernatorial Candidate Forum. The breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m.